"Charmed" Producer Quit After Network Demanded the Actors Be More Scantily Clad
KRISTA VERNOFF LEFT THE SUPERNATURAL SOAP WHEN SHE WAS TOLD TO EXPLOIT ITS STARS.
Starting in the late '90s, fans of Charmed tuned in each week to watch the three Halliwell sisters (Shannen Doherty, Holly Marie Combs, Alyssa Milano, and later, Rose McGowan) harness their powers as witches to fight off evil and save the world. But, viewers of the supernatural series might have noticed that as the seasons went on, the focus on the stars' sex appeal increased. Krista Vernoff, a writer and producer who began working on Charmed in 2000, has said that this was a mandate that came from above.
In a 2021 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Vernoff said that she left Charmed after working on the show for three seasons because the network—The WB, which no longer exists—would regularly ask for reasons to be written into the scripts for the stars to be more scantily clad. Read on to find out more and what the leads of Charmed had to say about Vernoff's claim.
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Vernoff didn't agree with the direction the show was heading.
THR explains that Vernoff had written for three seasons of Charmed and was offered double her salary to stick around for another season. But, partially because of the recent death of her father and partially because the network was intent on building up the show's male audience by showcasing the female leads' bodies, she turned the offer down.
"I signed on because Charmed was a girl-power show, and about halfway through there was an episode where Alyssa Milano comes out in mermaid pasties and there was a huge spike in male viewership, and then every episode after, the question would come from the network, 'How are we getting the girls naked this week?'" Vernoff said.
The episode she was referring to is the premiere of Season 5. It features Milano's character, Phoebe, turning into a mermaid.
She didn't want to be part of something "bad for the world."
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock
This made Vernoff reconsider whether she wanted to continue being a part of the series.
"And they were throwing money at me, and the number keeps going up, and there's all this pressure, and all I can think is, 'I'm creating something that's now bad for the world, and I've had enough bad for the world in my life,'" she told THR.
Vernoff went on to work on shows including Private Practice, Shameless, and Station 19. She is most associated with Grey's Anatomy, on which she has been a writer and producer since 2005.
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She clarified her words for fans.
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock
After the interview was published, Vernoff tweeted a message to viewers who loved the show.
"I want to clarify here for Charmed fans and also for my colleagues from Charmed who I love and admire, that I do not believe that the show was bad for the world," she said. "I felt that the objectifying notes were bad for the world—and were demoralizing for me. All love to Charmed."
The show's stars spoke out to defend it.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Milano and Combs, who starred on Charmed throughout its run, made their feelings about Vernoff's comments known.
Milano posted in response to a tweet about the interview, saying, "Well, this absolutely broke my heart. I hope we didn't make something that was 'bad for the world' for eight years. I think we gave permission to a generation of women to be themselves and to be strong and own their sexuality. I'm so proud of what this show meant to so many."
"I can attest 1000% Charmed was not bad for the world," Combs tweeted. "The reasons and people are too long to list. Maybe it was bad for Krista's world at the time. End story." In a second tweet she added, "And the fact that we can still stand up for ourselves and the show and the people who loved it proves this. I never cared what producer or network exec wanted us more naked for their $. And still don't. We knew how to rally against it and found our own power. And still do. #Facts."
Combs also responded directly to Vernoff's tweet in which she clarified her words, and wrote, "You had the power to change that. And fortunately still do now. #Rebel."